Ina Steiner EcommerceBytes Blog
News and insight focusing on ecommerce.
by Ina Steiner, Editor of EcommerceBytes.com
Fri Aug 10 2012 13:04:01

Why Is eBay Targeting Casual Sellers?

By: Ina Steiner

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eBay sellers can be sorted into three broad categories: large retailers/manufacturers; the Powerseller; and the casual seller. While many traditional eBay Powersellers say they feel eBay has abandoned them as it increasingly woos large retailers and brands, not much is said about eBay's stance on casual sellers, but it's a segment that the company is also actively targeting.

One way eBay acquires new sellers is by converting shoppers. eBay added a link called "Sell one like this" right on the listing pages sellers have paid for - an accompanying graphic displays a tiny auction gavel. But why would someone want to sell an item if they are shopping for that very item? Some may be:

- Consumers who are searching eBay to research the value of their possessions;

- Consumers who are looking for a replacement for an item they already own (eBay can get them to sell their old item and sell them a new one at the same time).

Once visitors click on the "Sell one like this" link, eBay brings them to a sign-in page that displays a graphic, "List free and cash in. Whether you list 1 item or 50, pay nothing until you sell." The graphic links to a Quick Start Guide that reads:

We've Made It Super Simple to Sell on eBay
List Auction-style FREE
    First 50 items per month -
    FREE to list auction-style &
    add "Buy It Now"
    See full terms and conditions
    One easy Final Value Fee - pay only if it sells
Register as an eBay seller and create a PayPal account


In the UK, eBay runs free-listing promotions nearly every weekend but restricts it to "Private" sellers (private sellers are those not registered as businesses in the UK, a requirement of doing business there). Here's the latest eBay UK promo scheduled for this weekend.

This week, eBay is running a fixed-price free-listing promotion (through August 18, 2012). Information about the promotion was sent only to certain User IDs and was not published on the announcement board - sellers believe the promotion targets casual sellers.

Attracting casual sellers gets more inventory on to the site, and offering up to 50 free listings could be encouraging mobile users to list via their smart phone (easy, impulsive), where they may not wish to invest the time and effort in front of their desktop.

Another benefit of attracting new sellers is that they must sign up for PayPal, which eBay sees as a key to its future success.

Have you seen other ways eBay is targeting casual sellers?

Why do you think eBay is targeting casual sellers, and are there any ramifications for the eBay Powerseller?




Comments (42) | Leave Comment | Permalink

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This user has validated their user name. by: Rexford

Fri Aug 10 13:40:18 2012

Big time ramifications.  Ebay have tried to clean up marketplaces and get rid of the bad sellers.  Powersellers and other small experienced sellers (I'm not talking about the large retailers) know the drill.

Bring in an inexperienced seller and all the work that eBay has put into ridding the site of bad sellers is all for naught.

Of course we all know that in the never ending quest to be like Amazon, this is what this is all about.

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This user has validated their user name. by: Anonymous Annie

Fri Aug 10 14:07:00 2012

Ina asks: ''Why do you think eBay is targeting casual sellers, and are there any ramifications for the eBay Powerseller?''

Easy answer. Because those are the sellers who don't know any better. Their inexperience with eBay means that they are gullible and more likely to believe eBay's lies... and less likely to complain about eBay's anti-seller/pro-shoplifter policies. These are the sellers that will be timid and more willing to kowtow to eBay's whims.

They won't ask questions, and they'll be so unfamiliar with all the confusing and conflicting policies that eBay can have-their-way with them... with no resistance... and no hassle. Easy pickin's.

Eventually, of course, these victims will catch-on... and they'll join the ever growing chorus of those who see eBay for the corrupt organization that it truly is.

But, this won't matter to eBay... they'll just employ the same tactics and methods again to harvest a fresh crop of vulnerable newbies.

For this particular scheme, eBay's only goal is to rake in some quick cash. Apparently it's too difficult for eBay to create an environment that's fair and safe for everyone. eBay can't be bothered to build its success by making sure that the SELLERS are successful... and that we are able to profit enough to stay in business, and to become loyal sellers.

It's all about eBay's bottom line, not the sellers' interests. eBay has no desire to grow with us. The long-term sellers and Powersellers are expendable.

The newbies that eBay is currently chasing will soon discover that gate they just passed through doesn't lead to the feeding trough... no... they're in the cattle-car transport. Next stop: the slaughter house.

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This user has validated their user name. by: bitbybit

Fri Aug 10 14:10:20 2012

Wait until these newbie sellers have their money placed on hold in Paypal. This could be a good thing because they will tell their friends and their friends will tell their friends and so on and so on ... Kind of like what is happening now with their sellers, who were also buyers and why the marketplace is becoming a big wasteland. The more people who know how poorly sellers are treated on eBay the likelihood of other alternative marketplaces increases with both sellers and buyers.

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by: ctblizzard This user has validated their user name.

Fri Aug 10 14:31:19 2012

I think this is because they are losing them. While ebay has slowly increased active registered uses the drop in the percentage of accounts active is startling. It went from 42% to like 17% last we could figure it out from their reports. By making 50 free listings they take the risk out try to increase new bodies through the door. The negative feelings have really hurt the referral base. I have tried to talk privately with ebay peeps about this, I get hammered on the board about it and no one listens. There are those at Ebay that agree and went to bat for sellers but many have left. According to one article JD replaced 75 of 100 top managers since he started as CEO. When you start a company talking about how important the little guy is, then crush him saying "the idea of the level playing field is outdated" its not so good for positive word of mouth. I can go on for hours on this topic but I guess we will see how ebay does in the long run..

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by: HarmonyGroveAntiques This user has validated their user name.
Web Site

Fri Aug 10 14:57:31 2012

Totally agree that the desperation has reached a fever pitch. Sellers like us who have doggedly hung in there despite heaps of BS have finally had enough and there apparently are not enough Diamonds or Chinese people to make up for the mass exodus.

I got a call from one of the eBay flunkies to give me the "good news" in the latest round of seller disruptions. I just cut her off saying we were moving to Etsy and wished her the absolute best of luck in her position. NOT!

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by: Willie This user has validated their user name.

Fri Aug 10 15:56:44 2012

I, too, have moved nearly all items to etsy.  Only thing I sell on GreedBay anymore is NWT clothing and a very few select collectibles. Let me amend that - the only things I LIST anymore - for we all know listing & selling have not been synonymous for a decade or so. I think JD & his cronies are like a baby who needs instant gratification (ie. money) at the cost of losing his bread & butter (small sellers) which is also $. When they were passing out common sense, he had left the building.

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by: trickstunt This user has validated their user name.

Fri Aug 10 16:27:24 2012

They just want noobs they can hold and/or steal funds and items from.

What will the noobs do when they find out their one-of-a-kind widget, which got snad-scammed away from them, is listed for sale on ebay and is now sitting in ebay fulfillment center?  

btw there was something a few months back which claimed ebay was going to start purging inactive IDs. Has anyone seen more on that?

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This user has validated their user name. by: Philip Cohen
Web Site

Fri Aug 10 16:44:52 2012

“Why Is eBay Targeting Casual Sellers?”

When they have to put the rusting old scow into reverse gear and actively target casual sellers you know they are getting to the really desperate stage …

I suspect that the CFO has refused to pump any more hot air into the quarterly marketplace figures for fear that the balloon is getting close to bursting; so the headless turkeys in the eBay executive suite have had another brilliant idea of effectively handing out advertising flyers at every garage sale that they come across. Too little, too late boys; the old hulk will undoubtedly continue to settle in the water …

Obviously, the old tub is effectively dead in the water; the only way to get it moving again now is to apply Wiley Miller’s “flow through theory” and for that to work the eBafia Don will have to drill even more, and larger, holes in eBay’s rusting hull …

“Shill Bidding Fraud on eBay Auctions: Case Study #5”
http://bit.ly/N1nTlc

eBay / PayPal / Donahoe: Dead Men Walking

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by: Digmen1 This user has validated their user name.
Web Site

Fri Aug 10 17:10:38 2012

I cant accept that the use of such ad tactics will encourage many new sellers.
People join ebay to sell, if they need some cash, or because they have heard its a good way to make money.
But if it true that ebay is targeting new sellers, then it does show they may be getting desperate.
But we keep waiting for that first disastrous quarter.

But if they were really desperate they would just fix a few things like search and visibility and they would read what people are saying on their boards.

And yes etsy seems to be doing really well.
Just need to get ebid.net, ecrater and bonanza going well. (and my own website)

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This user has validated their user name. by: Ric

Fri Aug 10 17:25:18 2012

Ina asks..." Why do you think eBay is targeting casual sellers..."

eBay wants new sellers for a couple of reasons.

First, new sellers and returning dormant sellers will most likely  have their payments subjected to payment holds by PayPal. It is no secret that this company looks for any reason to slow the payment flow and enable revenue to sit on the company books as opposed to sellers pockets for as long as possible.

Second, existing casual sellers on eBay are a bitter and vocal lot. Having managed to survive the many system and policy changes eBay has dumped upon sellers, many are openly down on eBay as a marketplace and as a company.

eBay likely wants new sellers because they are inexperienced with the many negative changes eBay has imposed and as such are less likely to complain about the company, it's systems and it's anti seller policies. As new sellers, eBay is desperately hoping they may generate new positive word of mouth about the company in the hopes to drown out the negative statements made by seasoned eBay sellers.

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This user has validated their user name. by: Philip Cohen
Web Site

Fri Aug 10 17:36:22 2012

Sorry, but there is nothing for eBay to fix; everything is set up, and invitations have been (some while ago) issued, for all the national brands to come in and rent space in eBay’s poorly renovated and tacky online mall ...

Unfortunately, it’s all happening only in the cretinous eBafia Don’s dreams …

And so we now have these pathetic cries for help directed to casual sellers …

Dream on John …

“Shill Bidding Fraud on eBay Auctions: Case Study #5”
http://bit.ly/N1nTlc

eBay / PayPal / Donahoe: Dead Men Walking

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by: trickstunt This user has validated their user name.

Fri Aug 10 17:43:32 2012

There is something else going on with ebay and paypal too. The amount of places openly selling fake accounts is exploding. There is also tutorials on youtube about how to cheat with fake or "stealth accounts".

That just seems very suspicious, knowing as we do that ebay can have any blog or website who may show figures or stats ebay doesn't want the world to know about to be shut down with one email. I would bet anything ebay is involved in those fake account sites.

Last site I saw selling them was something like ebay suspension blog dot com but there's alot more shown on some lesser known anti-ebay blogs too.

I think they need members any which way they can get them.

Those are some of the biggest reasons why no one can or should trust ebay and paypal.  

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by: pace306 This user has validated their user name.

Fri Aug 10 18:25:03 2012

Why is this even a question (article)?

''While many traditional eBay Powersellers say they feel eBay has abandoned them'' .... pardon me - but its not a FEELING - its out of the mouth of Noah Hershman AND JD himself - need I bring out the TWICE article yet again Ina? (go to twice.com and search the articles for EBAY'' - its there in black n white)!

That information compounded with the constant screw jobs that eBay forces on small to medium sellers aka powersellers only reinforces what we already know.

Rex said ''Ebay have tried to clean up marketplaces and get rid of the bad sellers.'' ... pardon me kind sir ..... NO they havent., any more then they have tried to rid themselves of the mountainous amounts of fakes, or anymore then they have in controlling VERO, or controlling bad buyers.

eBay can do anything it wants (like forced refunds etc) when they feel its in thier best interests, just as Vitton states in thier lawsuit ... eBay just has no reason to, and they dont feel they should have to.

Because of this, eBay is becomming iOffer - which has %90 fake goods.

As for manufactorers and large sellers - those are the beloved. They dont have VERO issues, they dont cry about Paypal (Paypal would NEVER hold Monster or Sonys funds anyway), SR updates dont apply to them, they have thier own CS agents inside the company themselves (ie eBay doesnt need to hire exra cs agents and can save money on payroll) and more. Plus they pay huge fees for their anchor stores with out flinching AND the fvf's (eBays reason of existance) are beyond huge!

Powersellers are the problem! (so eBay says). Instead of understanding that small to midsize powersellers bring customers in by selling the ''cool items'', constantly toil to improve thier listings and the quality of the items they carry, eBay sees them as a problem that must be controled. We are the cockaroaches they love to stamp on. If you dont agree - take a REAL issue to any eBay CS agent. First get one thats from the US and speaks the queens english, then try and get it solved. You get scripted BS and nothing happens .. ''dont worry sir - i'll have someone look into it''.

New casual sellers are the suckers (as many have said above) that eBay needs if they are going to survive beyond the handfuls of anchor stores. They are cheap and easy to control, dont make demands, can be easily dismissed, they can be robbed by eBays customer base and wont complain, Paypal can abuse them like they were a Penn State FB player ... and nothing will happen. Kudos to them from eBay if they take a sale away from a powerseller! (ebay just LOVES that!)(and easy extra %20 and the highest rates possible!)

Ina, we know how eBay works, just like we know how the mob works, or how the Post office DOESNT work. We know the screw job eBay wants to do to us .. we duck n cover, bob and weave to try to stay afloat - but between eBay and its crooked customers ... sometimes its just too much!

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This user has validated their user name. by: Anonymous Annie

Fri Aug 10 19:44:19 2012

Here's something interesting... but I don't know how true it is:

Short URL: http://zd.net/MlyfgB


Which is actually this long URL:
http://www.zdnet.com/interview-a-malicious-hacker-making-over-
10k-a-week-7000002416/

Perminate Link for Why Is eBay Targeting Casual Sellers?   Why Is eBay Targeting Casual Sellers?

This user has validated their user name. by: Ming the Merciless

Fri Aug 10 21:08:39 2012

The Ho said he didn't like ebafia's garage sale image so he set about to make it into a cheesy flea market where shoplifting is encouraged and supported, pickpockets are rampant, and seller paid page look like jumbled messes.

So many people I know ask have asked me about selling on ebay that I now have a pre printed handout warning prospective new ebay sellers what to expect.

I tell to try Craig's List or one of the other alternate sites.

So far I'm batting 1000. Not one prospective seller has listed anything on ebay and none of them have any plans to do so.

Friends don't let friends sell on ebay.

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This user has validated their user name. by: LDS Brother

Fri Aug 10 21:58:17 2012

"Friends don't let friends sell on ebay"

Bless you Ming ! Agreed 150%

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by: 10 year seller This user has validated their user name.

Fri Aug 10 22:24:38 2012

These so-called casual sellers could be people like me who were top rated power sellers who have left for greener pastures, but return once in a while for varied reasons.

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by: nsc This user has validated their user name.
Web Site

Sat Aug 11 07:57:06 2012

I think eBay is convinced that casual sellers are a necessary form of advertising for them. They reckon they need to keep eBay looking somewhat like the eBay of old, because eBay's brand is still online auctions for hard-to-find stuff.

They know they are losing the long-time small sellers, but since they really believe small sellers are interchangeable and in endless supply, they think all they have to do is advertize for more casual sellers to keep the desired mix on the site.

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This user has validated their user name. by: LDS Brother

Sat Aug 11 08:45:21 2012

I am very confused ? Targeting casual sellers ?

I just read an article a couple of days ago, and here is a key piece it said"

( Ebay and retailers declined to discuss fees. However, eBay charges less for top sellers and negotiates individual deals with the biggest and best, according to Wingo.

"EBay has struggled in the past because some of the products on its site were listed poorly or of questionable quality, and customer service from small sellers is not always what it could be. Big retailers are more likely to sell higher-quality products, categorize them more and provide better service. )

Think that means us small to mediums are under the bus as you all have been saying since 2008

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This user has validated their user name. by: Spartacus

Sat Aug 11 09:04:04 2012

(''EBay has struggled in the past because some of the products on its site were listed poorly or of questionable quality, and customer service from small sellers is not always what it could be. Big retailers are more likely to sell higher-quality products, categorize them more and provide better service. )

Right. Just look at ToysRUs eBay feedback...

http://feedback.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewFeedb
ack2&userid=toysrus&iid=-1&de=off&items=25&which=negative&interval=30&_trkparms=negative_30

If
any other seller had this many cancelled orders due to ''out of stock'', they'd be wiped off eBay.

TRS sure means a lot when you can have 99% feedback and nearly 100 negs+neutrals in 5000 transactions.

When I sold on eBay, I had 2 negatives and 3 neutrals over 3 years with 4800+ transactions. All were from deranged buyers and eBay removed both negs.

So much for small sellers not providing service.

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